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Is There Any Plausible Reason Why Aliens Would Evolve To Look Like Us?

In science fiction movies and TV shows, intelligent aliens are usually the same basic shape as humans: two arms, two legs and a head. But why would creatures that evolved on a completely different planet look so similar to us? We asked some experts, and they told us the most likely explanations for humanoid aliens.

Top image: Artwork by Wayne Douglas Barlowe

The truth is, aliens tend to look like us in science fiction for a couple of basic reasons: budget, and relatability.

“Most aliens in SF are humanoid because humans produce SF,” says Michael H. New, an Astrobiology Discipline Specialist at NASA. “While we are interested in the ‘other,’ our conception of otherness is often limited.”

And a lot of experts firmly believe that aliens would not look at all like humans. For example, Stephen Jay Gould claims that life that evolved elsewhere would look totally different from us — and in fact, if you “reran the tape” from the beginning of life on Earth, you wouldn’t end up with humans on this planet either. The emergence of humanoids on Earth is a totally random event that was a fluke, even with the exact conditions that we arose from.

But let’s say that we do meet aliens, and they turn out to be bipeds with a roughly human-like shape… how do we explain that?

Panspermia

This is the most common explanation for creatures that look sort of like us turning up all over the universe. Either humanoid aliens spread their DNA across the galaxy to give rise to creatures in their image, or the DNA just spread through the galaxy on its own, on asteroids and stuff.

Star Trek: The Next Generation reaches for this explanation in the episode “The Chase,” pictured above. And it’s the centerpiece of the recent movie Prometheus, as well.

“I’m of the strong opinion that if humanoid aliens exist, they must have some genetic heritage in common with human beings,” says Mark A. Bullock with the Southwest Research Institute. He’d find that easier to believe than the notion that humanoids could evolve independently elsewhere. Plus “it’s been shown that panspermia is quite a viable mechanism, so the interchange of genetic material between worlds is not out of the question.”

If the galaxy really did turn out to be full of humanoid aliens, “some kind of panspermia wouldn’t be a bad explanation,” New tells io9. “We’re bilaterally symmetric and bipedal because our ancestors were.” It’s entirely possible that if certain events had played out differently, the dominant species on Earth would have had a very different shape.

The Burgess Shale, which is roughly 500 million years old, “displays a wide range of body plans, only some of which are still seen on the modern Earth,” adds New. So he believes you’d need some outside intervention to account for humanoid aliens.

Bullock sounds a similar note, saying that the Cambrian explosion, 600 million years ago, “saw a great deal of evolutionary experimentation with body plans,” some of which could be a glimpse of life forms that we might see on other planets.

At the same time, panspermia is only really likely at the microbial level, cautions Joan L. Slonczewski, a biology professor at Kenyon College and science fiction author whose books include A Door Into Ocean and The Highest Frontier. Beyond microbes, panspermia doesn’t really make much sense as an explanation for humans’ own development.

 

Convergent Evolution

Or maybe humanoids just evolved on other planets, separately from us, because they just arrived at the same destination via other paths?

There are certain things about humans that helped us rise over other primates, says James Kasting, a distinguished professor of Geoscience at Penn State University. Our opposable thumbs helped us grasp tree branches, and also hold tools. And walking upright was useful, as well. Finally, being warm-blooded helped us to power our big brains.

“I would think that there’s a good chance that intelligent alien life evolved in more or less the same way and would thus bear some resemblance to humans,” says Kasting. “Not necessarily a close resemblance, though.”

The upright-walking, bipedal, two-armed posture “seems to have evolved independently in various unlikely contexts, from meerkats to velociraptors,” notes Slonczewski. “Maybe it just makes sense to have two feet to move, two hands to manipulate something, and a sensory ‘head’ with as wide a view as possible. Then again, that’s what we have, so it makes sense to us.”

We’ve seen enough examples of convergent evolution on Earth to believe that it could happen on other planets as well, notes Steven J. Dick, the 2013-2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress. “For example, the eye has been reinvented many times independently, as have wings in insects, birds and bats. Fish and marine mammals such as dolphins have evolved streamlined shapes for their water environment.”

Dick recommends the 1981 book Life in Darwin’s Universe: Evolution and the Cosmos by Gene Bylinsky, which argues that “a limited number of engineering solutions” are possible when it comes to successful life forms.

But Dick adds that you can’t discount environmental factors which would ensure that life on other planets would look at least somewhat different, including gravity. Dick tells io9:

Because they would have been shaped by their own unique planetary environments, organisms would be different from us in the particulars, just as there is great diversity of life on Earth, including the different requirements of land and water organisms. More generally, gravity imposes size limitations on life; from the cell to the whale is a large range indeed, but the food system of the whale (and the dinosaur on land) must strain to feed such a large structure, even as the heart struggles to sustain its blood flow. Life on a low-gravity planet might be free to soar upward both in the plant and animal kingdom, while life on a high-gravity planet would be correspondingly stifled.

Bilateral Symmetry

Let’s say that the notion of aliens separately evolving bodies that have more or less a human silhouette is kind of unlikely — it’s still possible that bilateral symmetry could be a constant among intelligent life forms, say some experts. This refers to the fact that your left and right sides are more or less the same, with an eye, an ear, an arm and a leg on either side.

“Bilateral symmetry appeared independently several different times in the evolution of larger organisms on Earth,” says Bullock. “So bilateral symmetry may be a common feature of intelligent life, regardless of whether its specific body plan.”

And once you get bilateral symmetry, you are going to start drifting in the direction of a vaguely humanoid body plan, argues Bjørn Østman with Michigan State University. The symmetry means you’ll have an even number of limbs — which is most likely going to be four, rather than six or more, which don’t convey enough of an advantage to justify the extra limbs.

“Even on earth there are lots of animals that have more than two pairs of limbs,” concedes Østman. “But I think that the reason why we have lots and lots of animals that hva four limbs is that that’s highly advantageous. It just happens to be mechanically a very good solution to traversing a rugged landscape.”

And once you have a lot of quadripeds on land, one of those quadripeds is going to start using its front limbs to manipulate tools. “If you can free two limbs to manipulate tools, then it becomes very advantageous to develop high intelligence,” notes Østman.

So assuming an intelligent alien is symmetrical and has some of its limbs devoted to tool use, then it might end up being roughly bipedal, says Østman. And the sensory organs, like eyes, will have to be forward-looking and not too far away from the tool-using limbs. Which means you end up with something like a head, because the nervous system will be close to the sensory organs for maximum efficiency.

Thus those two factors — symmetry and tool use — may lend themselves to something at least vaguely similar to a human shape, in Østman’s view.

“If we were to eventually find other intelligent life in the universe, they would be humanoid, I think,” Østman concludes. “I find that a high probability.” But at the same time, he admits he’s in the minority, and most other scientists agree with Gould that humanoid life is unlikely to evolve elsewhere.

Source io9.gizmodo.com

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Aliens & UFO's

UFO expert warns against trying to contact ET

Image Credit: PD – Comfreak / Pixabay

Should we really be trying to make contact ?

Former CIA operative Darrel Sims maintains that attempting to contact intelligent aliens is a very bad idea.

Sims, who has spent 38 years researching the alien abduction phenomenon, claims to have had his first encounter with the unknown when an extraterrestrial entity appeared in his bedroom and tried to manipulate his thoughts when he was a mere four years old.

He described how the alien had tried to alter his perception to make him think that it was only a clown.

Nowadays, Sims remains adamant that these alleged extraterrestrial visitors are anything but benign. In his view, they are manipulative beings who victimize humans in various different ways.

For this reason, he argues, attempting to make contact with ET would be a mistake.

“It’s an uninformed position for [SETI etc.] to get in contact with whoever’s out there,” he said. “Some people have done that and died as a result. Some people have been injured.”

The event to which he refers allegedly occurred in 1994 when a movie and television production crew who attempted to contact aliens by shining lights at a known UFO hotspot mysteriously disappeared.

It is unclear however who these individuals actually were or whether there is any merit to the story.

You can view a full interview with Sims in the video below.


Source: IB Times

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Navy source reveals that UFO sightings were ‘daily occurrence’ across multiple squadrons in 2014-15

© NORTHROP GRUMMAN

Tyler Rogoway
The War Zone

The E-2D Hawkeye is one of the most capable aerial surveillance platforms ever created.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the most recent known spate of UFO encounters with U.S. Navy pilots – those that occurred off the southeastern seaboard of the United States between 2014 and early 2015 – pertains to how persistent they actually were. We know Super Hornet aircrews from Strike Fighter Squadron 11 (VFA-11), the Red Rippers, detected unknown objects multiple times on radar and one aircrew even had a close encounter visually with one of them, but what about the rest of the many Hornet squadrons based at Naval Air Station Oceana, not to mention the E-2 Hawkeye squadrons from nearby NAS Norfolk? We have the answer to this question and it is remarkable.

A source with knowledge of the events has made it clear to The War Zone that presence of the mysterious objects in the restricted training airspace off America’s east coast was so pervasive that it was largely common knowledge among local flying units. They noted that the majority of the Super Hornet squadrons equipped with AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars – you can read all about this technology and how it was key in detecting these objects in our exclusive piece on the subject – at the time were having the same experiences, as well as the crews flying the new E-2D Hawkeye with its incredibly powerful AN/APY-9 radar suite. It literally became such a common and near everyday occurrence that Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers from the base would talk about it informally with regularity.

But that doesn’t mean formal action wasn’t taken. Beyond filing an official safety report after one of the jets almost hit one of the unidentified objects – described eerily as a translucent sphere with a cube structure suspended inside of it – Notices To Airman (NOTAMs) were posted regarding the dangers potentially posed by unknown aerial vehicles flying in the same military operating areas that aircraft from NAS Oceana frequented for training. This action was taken by the base’s command leadership as they couldn’t figure out how else to address the bizarre issue and its perceived threat to their aircrews’ safety.

We have since filed Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests for copies of these NOTAMs, as well as documents regarding how the decision to file the NOTAMs was made at the command level.

Another burning question surrounding these events pertains to whether or not additional visual encounters occurred beyond the one near miss with the Super Hornet and the ‘cube inside an orb’ object. Our source tells us that there were many more, and yes, they all resulted in the exact same description of the object. So, we are talking about a uniform set of very strange looking objects here that were spotted on radar, by infrared targeting pods, and by the naked eye, frequently over 2014 and the first part of 2015 above the waters off America’s southeastern coastline.

As we noted in our last piece on the subject, these encounters dropped off to the point they were described as fleeting and inconclusive at best once VFA-11 and its carrier air wing went on cruise to the Middle East in early Spring of 2015. In addition, we know that the carrier strike group and its aircraft were equipped with key new sensor fusion technologies for that deployment, a fact that is eerily similar to the circumstances surrounding the now famous ‘Tic Tac’ incident nearly a decade earlier. All of which makes these objects’ presence during the time leading up to that deployment that much more curious.

Yet at the same time, the fact that the volume of these recent encounters seems much greater and spread over a much larger period of time versus the infamous incident in 2004 is puzzling. And none of this even addresses the very peculiar physical appearance of these objects, but we have another report on that subject that will be filed in the very near future.

Still, at least we now have a much better sense of how widespread these encounters were and the cultural impact that they had on the Navy’s east coast master fighter jet base. This also underscores just how taboo this topic was to military aviators. The fact that these types of events could have been so pervasive, yet kept so hushed-up outside of Navy tactical aircraft aircrew circles, is telling in itself and provides good evidence as to why the Navy had to officially change is procedures for its personnel reporting such strange incidents.

All this comes as Congress is taking a high-interest in the subject as of late, with multiple briefings being given to key lawmakers with the military’s top witnesses.

Whatever the case may be, we are definitely entering into uncharted territory when it comes to this long shunned and abused topic. What exactly that will mean when it comes to actually getting to the truth of the matter remains to be understood.

This video shows one of the encounters seen of the east coast in this time period:

 

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Massive Group of Seekers Pledge to Storm Area 51 

Area 51 is the most famous base in the world. its place in popular culture is more than accepted and has been the scene of all kinds of stories, movies, and any kind of work you can imagine.

storm Area 51

Located in the Nevada desert, USA, Area 51 is officially the “Nevada Testing and Training Camp”, but many people believe it is much more: it is the place where the US Army gathers tests and executes related experiments. with the paranormal.

For their part, the US military did not even admit the existence of such a base, even though it was well known that there was something there.

Not in vain the base was built on an airfield used during the Second World War, so it’s not as if there had never been anything there. But the secrecy about what was done at the base was absolute, and that stoked the flames of the conspirators.

In 2013, the US government officially recognized the existence of Area 51 as a secret investigation base; where they test the most advanced weapons and aircraft of the time. We can not forget that most sightings of ships, strange lights and sounds from another world coincided with the cold war.

In Area 51 is where the military tested spy planes such as the U-2, whose existence and capabilities could not be filtered to the Soviets under any circumstances; hence the choice of a base in a remote place, difficult to access and so heavily guarded.

storm Area 51

This explanation is not enough for those who expected something more, of course, and now seek to discover once and for all “the truth.” To do this, they have created a group of Facebook called “Storm Area 51”, “Assault Area 51”, in which they seek volunteers for a massive invasion of the base.

A large number of social media users have reportedly committed to rushing in to the facility at the same time.

The questionable venture, which is scheduled for September 20th at 3am, will see attendees meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center in Amargosa Valley, Nevada before moving on to the base itself en masse.

Entitled ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’, the ill-advised plan, which aims to find evidence of aliens at the base, was first posted up on Facebook by the user ‘SmyleeKun’.

As of writing there are 185,000 people signed up to attend and a further 220,000 who have registered their interest, however it is unclear how many of them will actually turn up on the day.

Given that Area 51 is well known for its armed security patrols, it is difficult to imagine what would happen if even a small fraction of those signed up actually did attempt to storm the base.

It is also highly unlikely that the stunt would yield any useful information about the facility.

Suffice to say, rushing headlong through the gates of Area 51 is really not a good idea.

The idea is simple: if enough people sign up, the security of the place will not be able to stop them all and someone will get inside. It is a very crazy plan and it could end very badly; Although its purpose is already public, Area 51 remains a military base and therefore has important security measures and soldiers without fear of firing if they suspect a terrorist attack.

The worrying thing is that the page is half joking and half seriously. It has been created by a page that usually posts “memes” and streams video games on Twitch, and not by a fan of the paranormal.

The plan is that there is no plan, it is assumed that those who sign up for the event will have to go to the location at dawn on September 20 and run to the base.

Although it is evident that it is a joke, the fear is that there are people who take it seriously; and with 200,000 people targeted, and another 200,000 interested in the event, there are likely to be some.

The page does not say anywhere that it is “humor”, and the event has been cataloged as a “Cause”, as if it were a protest. If by chance you pass through Nevada next September, we do not recommend that you go near the area … just in case.

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